x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Barcelona crowned Club champions

Lionel Messi's extra-time goal clinches the Catalans' victory against Estudiantes, and their unprecedented sixth title this year.

Carlos Puyol lifts the Club World Cup with his Barca teammates.
Carlos Puyol lifts the Club World Cup with his Barca teammates.

ABU DHABI // They left it late, very late, but Barcelona were crowned champions of the world last night after beating Argentina's Estudiantes 2-1 in the Club World Cup final. Barca's thrilling triumph, the club's sixth trophy of the year, was heart-breaking for their South American opponents, who were only minutes away from winning the cup themselves.

"Winning this way is very special; so much in a row is amazing," said the Barca manager Pep Guardiola. "We have achieved something no-one else has ever done. We need to be happy and I congratulate the whole Barca institution." The midfielder Xavi called it a "historic" night. "It's going to very difficult," Xavi said about defending the titles. "When you look back in history you see there is only us who have done it [won six trophies in one year]."

More than 43,000 fans were in shock when, against the run of play, the Estudiantes striker Mauro Boselli headed the underdogs into the lead eight minutes before the break. From there on, Barcelona piled on the pressure as Estudiantes sat back, content to protect their slender advantage. A thrilling tussle at Zayed Sports City looked to be going the way of the Copa Libertadores holders until Pedro headed Barca level with a minute remaining. The first half of extra-time saw both sides go close before Barca's Lionel Messi chested in Daniel Alves' right-wing cross to send the stadium into delirium. Estudinates threw every man forward and almost grabbed a late equaliser themselves, but Boselli's last-gasp header was inches wide.

"We were so very near to achieving our dream," said Estudiantes coach Alejandro Sabella. "My players have done an impeccable job, we never lost spirit and we go home with pride." emegson@thenational.ae